Page last updated at 05:16 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Air traffic firm ruled 'ageist'

Luton Airport
Nats argued that the performance of controllers declines with age

The air traffic control service Nats has been found guilty of age discrimination by refusing to recruit trainee controllers older than 35.

A tribunal ruled the ban was confused, and warned the company's attitudes on age could prove hard to eradicate.

It had been challenged by a 50-year-old man London who had been rejected for a position because of his age.

A spokesman for Nats said it was disappointed, and its only interest had been to provide a safe service.

It will now study the judgement before considering its next step.

Age bar

The man who brought the case had been qualified to train as an air traffic controller.

Nats justified the decision to reject him because of his age on various grounds - safety, the need to recoup the cost of training, and the suggestion that the performance of controllers declines with age.

However, the tribunal ruled that the age bar was irrational and arbitrary, and as such was direct age discrimination.

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